How To Be A Friend In The Midst Of Grief

How To Be A Friend In The Midst Of Grief | theprimarilyinspired.com |

“As much as we might wish, none of us will be able to go through life without some kind of suffering. That’s why it’s crucial for us to learn to suffer well.

-Emily Esfahani Smith, The Power of Meaning

This week is Infertility Awareness Week and it’s a reminder of how there are hundreds of thousands of women who suffer silently due to their struggle to have a baby. I’ve come to realize that there are many women in my circle that have either had difficulty getting pregnant, staying pregnant, or have had the inexplicable pain of delivering still born. It’s a spectrum of sadness that I cannot even begin to understand myself or even fathom what one must feel when those tiresome months pass into years.

But as a friend, what can I do to offer support to these women? How can I be there for them without making them feel worse? And what exactly is the right thing to say? Is saying nothing at all the right thing?

Our good intentions

Grief is an interesting thing and it’s something I’ve dealt with personally after the loss of my sister and through my own miscarriage. Although my friends and husband’s family immediately surrounded me in love, I was cursed with the overwhelming feeling of uncertainty and a lack of understanding of why this was happening. And although I’ve been on the one side of grief, I can also recognize that I’ve fallen into the pitfall of not being the supportive friend or daughter by eclipsing another’s grief with my good intentions.

We all have them – those good intentions. But, unbeknownst to us our good intentioned-filled words can have a lasting negative impression on the very person we aimed to help or support. Most importantly I’ve learned that it comes down to the timing, what is said, and how one says it – and sometimes it’s not saying anything at all. When my sister passed, I wasn’t there for my mother the way she needed me because I was gripping with my own sense of grief. I wasn’t in a position at that time to be as supportive as I could have been. I lacked in timing and my words ultimately tore a person to pieces when she was already hanging on by a thread. And after that moment, and even through the years that have passed, I am constantly reminded by God that…

“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
Proverbs 15:4

However, there are many ways in which we can be supportive of someone who is experiencing grief whether it be over infertility, a loss of a pregnancy, child, or other loved one. We can all be there in some capacity for those working their way through their grief and God has given us a few provisions to help us along the way.

Listen, don’t speak.

This was a hard one for me because I so often feel as though when someone comes to me to talk they’re looking for a response. Sometimes, and probably most times, people who are in grief just need someone to listen to them. And if they’re not up for talking, just be in the room with them. Remind them with your presence that they’re not alone.

Ask what you can do for them.

You’re not a mind reader and it’s important to realize that everyone grieves differently. Some might like to reminisce, look through photos, or watch home movies. To have visitors or perhaps be alone. Whereas others don’t even want to talk – yet. Simply ask the person what they need from you in that moment and be ready that, over time, what they might need will change.

Ask what they need.

This moreso has to do with those little chores or things you can do of service for that person. Is it to go grocery shopping for them so they have food in the house, refill their gas tank, or simply just stay the night with them? Are there phone calls or emails you can send or reply to for them? These little tasks may be overwhelming to someone in grief so helping to take those off their hands may mean the world to them in that moment. It’s all about finding out how you can be of service in the moment.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
1 Peter 4:10

Remember them on Mother’s and Father’s Day

It’s easy to get caught up on the busyness of such holidays. But those who are grieving the loss of a child or who suffer from infertility, such holidays can be crushing for them. It doesn’t need to be a super-duper gesture, but simply calling or sending a card lets that person know you’re thinking of them meanwhile allowing them to process that day privately.

Support them in their decisions.

This was a huge one for me because as I was easing out of my grief, my mother was still within the throws of hers. It was, at times, frustrating but while I was busy being upset with her choices I missed out on recognizing that she’s allowed to be human. Sometimes as ‘Mom’ you’re thrown onto a pedestal to which you need to be the strong figure you’ve always been for your kids – and for us children it’s hard to remember in times of grief that Mom is human too.

I’ve learned since then that I needed to be supportive of her no matter what decision she made for herself or how she chose to move forward. I may not have understood it or agreed with it, but my place was to be by her side regardless. The same goes for anyone in grief when making a decision for themselves or their family.

“For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
James  2:13

 And the greatest of all these reminders is this…

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”
Colossians 3:12-15

For more resources on being supportive through grief: RESOLVE: National Infertility Association and Psychology Today: How To Help Someone Who Is Grieving are great places to start.
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Why Nick Isn’t My Bachelor

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I acknowledge that my participation in Bachelor Nation is quite late being that I only began watching the reality series starting with Chris Soules’ season. I tuned into one episode just to see what all the talk was about and I can admit, it was then I was hooked. I’m not quite sure what initially allured me; perhaps the hopeless romantic in me wanting everyone to find true love or just being drawn towards the ridiculous drama between the women (I can’t help myself). I’m also curious about the concept of whether or not lasting love can really be found on a reality show that is taped for 10 weeks at a time. Can it really be done? Are these people truly ready to be engaged by the end of the season and live their lives for better or for worse?

Having followed The Bachelor and The Bachelorette for the past few seasons now, and then Bachelor in Paradise this past summer, I’ve come to get to know Nick Viall a little bit. I admit, I never watched any of his seasons when he was a contestant, but have heard he was quite the villain on Andi’s season. He even called her out, exposing that they had had sex during the Fantasy Suite, which is a taboo thing to do on the show. I’ve also heard that he actually had quite the chemistry with Kaitlyn during her run on her season of The Bachelorette, but alas she picked someone else in the finale.

Nonetheless, I was first introduced to him during Paradise when he came off as the lovable ‘friend zone’ guy who just wanted to find love. It always seemed that whenever he found chemistry with a girl, they for some reason always left him for another option. Poor guy, I thought. I really wanted to root for him. So, when the series broke the traditional mold and picked him, a guy who can pretty much call himself a professional Bachelor at this point, to be their next pick for this current season I was pretty stoked for him. All the guy wanted was to find love…right?

But with all things considered, here’s why Nick is one of the worst picks for season 21 of The Bachelor:

He’s boring.

Tuning into the first episode of his season, and getting a closer glimpse into his personality, I quickly realized he is not like the lovable guy I saw on Paradise. He has a few social and character traits that I personally find annoying: the mumbling, talking under is breath a lot, being unsure about pretty much everything, and most importantly, being wishy-washy about what it is he’s looking for in love and in the women themselves. He has the looks, I mean, come on…he’s great looking. However, I had a huge question mark over him the moment he began his season.

Women are attracted to confidence, not uncertainty. We want to be reassured that our feelings are being acknowledged and that the other person gives just as much as we are in a relationship. I love that he is in tune with his emotions, but the crying after a while needs to stop. Seriously, I feel like he’s cried more this season than any other Bachelor to date. But despite his tears, he still manages to be emotionally unavailable to any of the women.

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He doesn’t appear to be taking this seriously.

Case in point: Corrine. This season gave us A LOT of her, and she fits the formula for great reality T.V. She’s cute and an entitled daddy’s girl from Miami who managed to create a lot of drama in the house. She’s immature and I’m convinced only on the show ‘to win,’ not necessarily to find lasting love with Nick despite her saying it over and over again. When we were introduced to her, both my husband and I said that Nick would keep her around, but surely he’d let go of her after the first couple of weeks – giving him time to make stronger connections with the other women.

No, he kept her all the way up to the last few episodes. Really?

The fact that he kept her around as long as he did only told me, and even a few girls in the house, that he wasn’t taking this experience all that seriously. She lead with her sexuality, because let’s be honest she doesn’t have much else at the moment, and he fell for it. Every time. He completely jeopardized the other relationships in the house by keeping her around and I’m not even sure anymore if he realizes it.

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He’s not trying hard enough.

In just the couple of years I’ve been tuning in to Bachelor I’m disappointed that Nick doesn’t appear to be trying, really at all, with any of the women. He is elusive with sharing anything meaningful about himself and after 10 weeks I know nothing more about him than when the season started. He keeps saying that he’s looking for ‘raw relationships,’ but he sends all the women home who express their love towards him and open up to him with their deepest feelings, experiences, and personal stories. I know more about all of the women on this show than Nick himself. At some point he needs to put forth the effort in these relationships…but that’s just it. When it’s real love blossoming the effort is effortless.

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Perhaps The Bachelor franchise wanted to use him as their success story.

We all know that not all Bachelor or Bachelorette seasons end with an ‘I do’ amongst the chosen couples, but there are a few success stories that prove there can be happy endings. (There’s a reason they always bring back Sean Lowe, amongst other Bachelor alums, to prove to the current Bachelor there can be a wedding by the end of this journey).

It’s also no wonder that the franchise needed to change things up this season and with him missing out three (yes, THREE) other times on this show, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were really counting on him being their golden child of a season. Unfortunately for them, he has a dud personality.

Or he’s using the show to boost his nonexistent career.

In the age of the Kardashians where reality stars can make careers out of doing nothing I suppose Nick fits the bill. He’s surely made a career off of the Bachelor franchise and with the news of his participation on Dancing With The Stars (which is pretty commonplace for Bachelor/ette alums) he’s sure to extend those 15 minutes (x4) of fame. Who knows if he’s on the show to truly find love or just use it as a platform to reach another notch higher in the social entertainment world. It’s anyone’s guess.

Regardless of his intentions, I do plan to tune in to tonight’s finale to see whether or not the guy gets engaged to anyone. We all know Rachel is our next Bachelorette, so she’s off our list, so it comes down to Raven and Vanessa. Personally, I’d like to see both women not accept his proposal considering I don’t feel as though Nick put forth the right amount of effort towards any of them. However, I love Vanessa because she seems the type to know what she wants, what she deserves, and will have no problem calling Nick out on his sh*t (I love she had no problems doing then when Corrine pulled out her bouncy house move). So I suppose if there is an engagement I’d like to see Vanessa over Raven – but I surely don’t see a wedding anytime soon or at all.

What are your thoughts about this season? Who did you see getting the final rose? Did you dislike Nick as much as I did?

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